York prepares for new grants scheme

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City of York Council is gearing up to deliver a new government grant scheme aimed at local businesses, small charities, B&Bs and market traders.

York is set to receive around £2.2 million to support small and micro businesses that do not qualify for the existing grants or the self-employed income support.

The figure represents the 5% ‘uplift’ promised to councils on the amount received through the Coronavirus grants for small businesses and those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

Local authorities have to wait for final details from the government but the scheme aims to help:

  • Small businesses in shared offices or other flexible work spaces
  • Science parks and incubators which do not have their own business rates assessment
  • Regular market traders who do not have their own business rates assessment
  • B&Bs which pay Council Tax instead of business rates
  • Charity properties in receipt of charitable business rates relief which would otherwise have been eligible for Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rate Relief

It is available to businesses with fewer than 50 employees and facing ongoing fixed building-related costs. Applicants must have been trading since before 11 March, and able to demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said: “These are extremely challenging times for the people who run York’s businesses.

“From day one it’s been our priority to get relief into business’ bank accounts as securely and quickly as possible, with over £105 million distributed in a matter of weeks, nearly 90% of previous grant announcements. We’ll do the same with these grants, and are working with neighbouring councils to make sure that, as resources allow, there is as much consistency as possible.

“We hope that the Government will provide regulations to councils quickly so that we can announce details of how to apply early next week.”

Because the scale of the financial award to local authorities has been fixed, but the number of qualifying businesses and charity properties will emerge and vary, the council cannot immediately say how much each grant will be worth.

Full details of the scheme are expected to be announced by the Government later this week. Grants will be distributed by an application process.

Almost 90% of previously announced grants have now been processed with City of York ranking 12 out of 314 local authorities for the quickest payments to local businesses. Officers are continuing to work through these, as well as the micro grants.